Just me, just another little kid, into whose life the Lord would intervene in a powerful way. Thank you, Jesus! You are just so totally cool! I can’t wait to meet you in heaven. I’ve already taken note of you in friends here on earth.
- [Part 1 HERE - suffering a failed but violent rape]
- [Part 2 HERE - unwitting stardom in kiddie-porn films]
- [Part 3 HERE - a suggestion]
- [Part 4 HERE- angels!]
- [Part 5 HERE - responding to some comments.]
~ Introduction ~
So, what’s the point of rehashing such things as any abuse one might have suffered in the distant past? Well, I think many people are hurting or are simply unaware of how people can suffer, and how our Lord will intervene in such horrific circumstances. Some words of encouragement about the Lord’s goodness and kindness are in order.
This is a rough draft of what are now chapters six (Part 1) and seven (Part 2) of the autobiography. What a fright. But don’t worry. There is no provision of untoward details. I believe that untoward accounts are no more than a ludicrous invitation to voyeurism for would-be readers and a prolongation of the abuse for the victims. One can still get across the full story without descending into that which does no service to anyone except the Evil One. So, instead of all that, again, I hope you will be encouraged to rejoice in the goodness and kindness of Jesus by way of what I will relate here.
I’ve hesitated to include these chapters in the autobiography, since the mindless “they say” crowd have it that they say that the one who has any experience at all with having been abused is surely, absolutely, beyond any doubt, certainly to become an abuser himself. That kind of pop-psychology approach would therefore endanger the exercise of my priesthood, would it not, what with such fear of priests being abusers (even though it is a demographic fact that Catholic priests today are by far, indeed, altogether incomparably the least likely group to abuse)?
I’ve never hesitated to say what I think before, so why start now? Because of fear of so-called victim-advocates who merely condemn victims as likely abusers. Pah! It is to laugh! One only needs a bit of common sense. More on that just below.
Now, just to say, the attitude of psychological determinism championed by the Brits and Aussies with the statement of someone being “damaged” and therefore a risk to others, is rather suffocating of anyone who would like to come forward with statements of abuse, right? Is that the message one wants to provide? Really? This would be further abuse. Kick the victim while he’s down! Damn that victim! Right? Such pundits, who are trying to sell you something, might want to get to know the Great Pornchai Moontri: HERE, just to get you started. Pornchai never got to tell his story in court because such attitudes made his testimony apparently irrelevant or worse. A little bit ironic, no? I think that those who make generalized condemnation of victims are either guilty of committing abuse (Hey! There’s a thought!) or are afraid to point out the abuse to which they were subjected (Sadly), or are just incredibly arrogant, as an escape from something about themselves.
Having said that, well, of course, some of those who have been abused are indeed at some risk of becoming abusers in an attempt to figure out by first hand experience from the other side of what happened to them when they were youngsters. Sure. But this is reversed with a heavy dose of common sense.
Just to say, the ones who are especially open to noticing common sense are those who remain open to an intervention of the Most High in one’s life (which is common sense), so that one is not figuring out life by mind-games (as the “they say” crowd demand), but by way of Him who is reality. Our Lord is always but always shaking us up to take note of His magnificent interventions. We can be expert at ignoring those interventions. But He keeps working on us. It’s imperative to know how to look to the Lord.
Dawn Eden, who found out how to look to the Lord, has done a magnificent job with her book on the healing of sexual abuse with the examples of the saints. Also, if you haven’t already done so (where’ve you been?!), read over her absolutely delightful Master’s Thesis defended at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C. That eminently enjoyable thesis provides a hermeneutic of continuity for John Paul’s Theology of the Body over against its lewd and blasphemous interpreters. You can find links for all these things at another post on this blog: HERE.
Another voice of reason in all this is that of Father Gordon MacRae (ABOUT) over at These Stone Walls: HERE. If you don’t know Father Gordon yet, you don’t yet understand what is happening in our culture and the Catholic Church in America.
Now, as it happens – thanks be to God – in my own case, I noticed quite immediately the gracious interventions of the Lord when I was suffering a bit of abuse, as you’ll see.
Such experiences with the Lord’s kind and gracious interventions, have, of course, had an effect on the way I perceive things, that is, for the better, for I am quite adept at seeing, for instance, the abuse inherent in some so-called child-protection-programs which shove even pre-kindergarteners’ faces into graphic sex education programs as a way to pretend that a bishop can therefore make the claim that he’s “done something” to protect youngsters by thus attempting to make little children legally responsible to protect themselves by raping their young minds with such images. Just an illogicity there, or two or three, don’t you think? How sad. At any rate…
Such experiences have also prepared me to see more clearly the real motivation of some so-called abuse-victim advocacy groups such as SNAP and TNCRRG which has little to do with advocacy. See, for some of this, A Ram In The Thicket blog, especially HERE and HERE.
This has also brought me to spend time in supporting due process for the accused, which ultimately protects the voice of real victims. Instead of “You’re guilty and you can’t prove yourself innocent,” it’s to be “You’re presumed innocent until you’re proven guilty,” with the emphasis on “proven”. For more on that, see the rather ferocious series on The Judas Crisis in the sidebar of the blog: HERE, especially this post, HERE.
Despite all that, there will always be the super-self-righteous who, in reading this article, will hold me in disdain, dirty, uncouth, unclean, unworthy, the scum of the earth. Whatever. May the Lord forgive them.
At any rate, our Lord uses all our experiences for the good – including being condemned by idiots – if we but go along with Him. Here are some of my experiences. Let’s start with a failed, but especially violent rape at just seven years old.
By the way, none of what is recounted here is the result of farcical recovered memories. It’s all instant recall here, like it just happened. No nightmares, ever; no trauma; just a steep learning curve at the time, and reflection on all this later, now and again.
~~~ O.K. LET’S BEGIN WITH THE REMINISCING ~~~
~ A failed, but especially violent rape ~
However knocked about I have been in my life, however stupid I have been, I have never lost sight of the greatness to which each individual of whatever age or circumstance is called. Each child bears within himself, within herself, an entire universe of wonder and greatness, and more, so much more, needing to be filled to bursting with the indwelling of the Most Holy Trinity, being able to rejoice in all humble thanksgiving in the enthusiastic friendship of Jesus with them.
Children are bearers of the weight of the glory of God, called to love with God’s love, with that love I first knew consciously at two and half years old when I received my vocation to the priesthood. It is this love – greater than all the heavens and earth, a sovereign, personal love – which gave me hope, which gives me hope, for myself, for others. God is so good and so kind, however much people can otherwise be just so very evil. It is such a crime to shatter innocence.
And if I myself had not been destroyed, I did see much destruction in others, how their innocence had been shattered. The Lord does permit real evil to happen to us, though only so as to draw an incomparably much greater good out of the evil, all for our benefit and that of others.
Let’s skip ahead a few years in this, my life story, to when I was about seven years old, I remember a boy from my part of town, who must have been terribly, violently abused, perhaps by his own brothers, his own father. There was always something tangibly scary about his brothers and father. I had never even met them. But I was warned again and again only to come there when they weren’t around. This friend of mine was always on the lookout for their arrival, and would grab me frantically, telling me to run with any noise he heard, his eyes filled with fear. This frightened me, but I didn’t want to abandon him. Friends don’t abandon friends, do they?
We were the same age, though he was quite a bit stronger than I was. Their family had exercise equipment in their basement, and he used it pretty constantly. The basement was his favorite place in his house. At any rate, whenever we would go on an expedition to look for innocent trouble, so to speak, climbing the steep banks of the Mississippi or investigating construction zones, he would erratically run away. Perhaps he was afraid of being punished for making trouble. Perhaps he was afraid of real friendship.
He once stole my little Schwinn Stingray – perhaps to run away from home – and then returned it two weeks later, letting it drop on the driveway in a heap in front of me, almost as a kind of challenge, looking at me defiantly. He didn’t know that the bike was good for doing things like THIS. He insisted with a strained, high-pitched and loud voice that he wanted to go to our basement. “Basement…” thought I to myself. I hesitated, noting a sort of madness in his eyes, a madness I didn’t give much heed, however, since I wanted him to see I was looking indignantly at the condition of the bicycle. He ignored this, as if nothing material in this world had any relevance to anything. More than this, he was incredulous that I would waste time on the bicycle. Odd for a seven-year old, thought I, seven-year old that I was. He was hardly able to contain himself, glaring right into my soul, almost shrieking that we had to go to the basement… now!
So, O.K., I led him down to the basement, never having had experience with such behavior. I admit however, that my adrenaline levels were maxing out as I led him down the steps. I showed him the small chest of toys that I myself hadn’t looked at for a number of years, but he didn’t even look in that direction. He was scanning the room for something else. I opened the cover to the keyboard of the small upright piano we had, explaining that some of the keys didn’t work. He slammed the cover back down shaking his head in disbelief at my lack of comprehension. As he scanned the room again, I had a sinking feeling that something very bad, very evil was about to take place that very instant.
I tried to ignore this, stupidly, opening the cover to the piano once again to see if there was any damage. That’s when I saw, out of the corner of my eye, that he was reaching out to the light-switch with one hand even while taking a switch blade out of his pocket with the other, lunging for me at the same time, wildly swiping the blade this way and that. Thank God there was a tiny window high up in the adjoining laundry room, which let in just enough light to enable me to evade his slashing.
Although I would often fight with my older brother, this was something altogether different. I didn’t know how to jump into this fray without getting killed. If I ran, I would get stabbed in the back. That was certain. Going into battle was the only way. As he lifted the knife to his shoulder so as to plunge the blade into my chest, with both hands I somehow grabbed his hand, and immediately commenced smashing the back of his hand, ever clenching the knife, against the metal corner of the chest freezer we had next to the piano. I was using up all my strength, as this went on for some minutes. He would switch from hitting me with his free hand to using both hands so as to try to stab me. He had an iron grip on the knife, which, incredibly, he turned in on my forearms as I continued to smash his hand against the corner of the freezer. I thought I was a dead man, that I was going to die right then and there in a pool of blood like any gralloshed deer such as I had seen hanging in the garage of the neighbor. I couldn’t believe I was holding my own. He was either not a very good fighter – though he was much more practiced than I – or fighting was not his purpose.
At one moment, when he was punching me with his free hand, he dropped the knife on top of the freezer with the other. I must have broken quite a few of the bones of his hand on the corner of the freezer by this time. I managed to push the knife behind the freezer, but that made him go into an absolute frenzy of hitting and punching, at least with his one good hand. In the midst of this, he tried to rip my jeans off. At first, I thought he was after the few coins any seven-year old might have in his pockets. But then I was utterly stunned. This fight was not in the least about fighting, though I think he would have repeatedly stabbed me, right to death, if he had had the chance. This was, instead, about something that, at that time, I could not understand. I was completely flummoxed. I listened, but I could not believe my ears. He was begging me again and again – with such a hellishly despairing desperation in his voice – begging me, half mumbling, half shouting, half shrieking, half crying out for help, begging me to hit him even as he continued to flail away with incredibly powerful punches. It wasn’t the violence that put me off so much as this beastly spirit inside of this, this… seven-year old.
This wasn’t about wanting a sparring partner. He was fighting for his own life, flailing away in trying to get my attention as he was doing so. He was trying to let me know that this was his last-ditch effort to be understood. He was at the end of his life right then, right there. He knew it. He was screaming for help. Screaming. For help. He could not go on anymore, not like this.
In all of this – however filled with adrenaline I was, however stressed all my muscles, however turbulent my emotions, however many stars I saw under the continuous rain of blows – I remained with a sense of calm, a recognition of God’s presence. “God help us! Guardian angel! Help!” And God did intervene, letting the horror take its course even while preparing to draw such good out of such evil.
Mom is eager to fry up some of the fish being held by my brother and father, with myself, being the baby of the family, always, holding up a snake I had just caught. Typical seven year old. This is on Burnt Island, in Lake of the Woods, directly on the border with Canada, as pointed out by a heavy border stake driven directly into the bed rock high up on the little island. This is during the 4th of July, warm enough if you were running around, still pretty cold if you weren’t. Bears and wolves and moose all around. Hearing the mysterious loons was always a treat.
Since the knife was out of reach, I tried to back off and run up the stairs, which took another few minutes, during which he tried to rape me – a seven-year old trying ever so violently to rape another seven-year old mind you – though he had never succeeded in pulling my jeans off nor did he ever lower his own trousers. This wasn’t so much about sex as it was about him trying to figure out what happened to him. He must have been raped for the umpteen zillionth time just minutes before coming over to my house and was using me as a substitute for what he wanted to do to his (I suppose from what he had said previously) brothers and/or father, role-playing them over against me, all the while trying to get, if possible, a reaction of goodness and kindness from me, proving to himself that even if he showed his absolute worst, there was someone who would nevertheless hold out hope for him. Goodness and kindness isn’t the passive bit of passive/aggressive rubbish. Goodness and kindness is simply real goodness, real kindness. Goodness and kindness provide hope. Should you doubt this, keep reading. Meanwhile, I escaped.
I waited at the top of the stairs for him, not a little upset, letting that sense of calm, of God’s presence, slip away a bit, in pain with so many punches to my head, and flustered that I had no idea what had just happened. Some minutes went by. I didn’t want to let him find his knife, but there was no way I was going down the steps again. My only objective now was to get him outside of the house. I was on edge in anticipation of his coming up from the basement, but this time I had no fear whatsoever. I would certainly get the job done. Eventually, he emerged and asked to take the bike again as I kept him moving to the outside.
His question about taking the bicycle angered me for some seconds, but then, as we got outside… it happened… a terrifying rush of understanding, an enlivening dread terror before the magnificent, awesome, crushing weight of the glory of its truth, ripping me up into heaven even while shoving my face into the reality of man’s horrific situation before God all the more violently, a new kind of extreme sport for me. It was not a brightness. Yet, it was. The only way I can describe this glory is by praising the agility this truth had in letting itself be carried in all charity right into the midst of the hell I now saw. My guardian angel, it seems, was enlightening me about how he saw things. Yikes!
The turmoil of the past few minutes was nothing compared to what I now beheld in front of me. Looking at this friend of mine, into his eyes… oh my… I can see them now, absolutely wide open, and him, sitting on the bike… disheveled, bleeding a bit, holding on to the handlebars of the bike with but one hand, holding the other, badly injured, in front of his chest that was heaving with hoarse, deep breathing, silent tears screaming with emotion streaming down his face, his whole body shaking quite violently. He was suffering all hell’s minions attacking whatever hope he had left. I hadn’t noticed his face so very much when he had arrived, being more interested, as I said, in the condition of my bike. But now, looking at him just as intently as he was looking at me, I realized that I was afraid for his life, as was he for his own life. His words about riding the bike, with his one remaining good hand, into the front of a speeding eighteen wheel truck just one street over as soon as he left me added nothing to what I could already see of his spirit. He was utterly shaken – a mere shell of a little boy – at a loss now as to how to keep any shred of conscience he still might possess, at a loss of how not to take his own life. And he was looking pleadingly into my eyes.
My sudden understanding in such horrific circumstances did not come from a been there, done that, condescending projection of self as is always hailed by psychologies of the lowest-common-denominator of stupidity. Instead, I understood because, then and there, I was drawn to put all this before the love of God that I had already known for years. God always uses our experiences – and I also had suffered some bad things – but what God uses is not anything that we suffer, but the hope we have gained in being brought into His love and mercy. He has us put others before that love and mercy, before that hope, not before our own ineptitude. This friend of mine knew all of my ineptness, and could not have cared less about that. He saw something else in me that he was trying to get to understand. The living hope which guides us is not distant, not cold, not ideological, not a mind game, but is ever so personal, so… true. It is a friendship with God that cannot but be manifested at such times despite our own idiocy. God wins out. Every time. If we are at all with Him.
We ended up in a long, but halting discussion, full of awkward silences, about family life and encouragement. The silences seemed so graceless precisely because they were filled with grace, leading, as they did, to honest, if only half completed remarks, which were cut off by his heart almost visibly being jammed hard into his throat with such a roller coaster of emotions.
It was one of the single most painful conversations I have had in my life, truly excruciating, because every word of understanding and advice that I was offering was coming to me for the first time, second by second. I was very conscious of my inadequacy on the one hand, but had a very strong realization that God Himself was helping me on the other hand. My emotions and my brain were working way, way overtime. There was a life and death urgency and, of course, I myself had come literally within inches of having been stabbed to death.
But God is good. He made the conversation at least a temporary success. I knew something of the angels at that time. I guessed that they had everything to do with anything good that came from this encounter, not the least of which goodness was the saving of his life and an introduction to the goodness and kindness of the Lord. This conversation, this encounter with heaven visiting earth, went on for a good half hour. He didn’t want it to stop. He was changed by the time he left. Much calmer. Overwhelmed. He got what he was looking for. Hope. The problem was that he was headed straight back into hell. But he had a temporary reprieve.
Friends are not so easily offended when they can distinguish between being dissed as opposed to someone crying out for help, for life itself. We stayed friends, of sorts, in that seventh year of my life. He didn’t ride himself into a speeding truck, not yet anyway.
There was nothing at all heroic on my part about any of this. I’m sure my guardian angel helped me fight. And any understanding I had, came directly from the Lord by way of this great angel of God. If the Lord wanted to use me, that was up to Him. I had no say in the matter. And this gives one a certain freedom. I imagine that this is what makes martyrdom possible. It has nothing at all to do with our strength; everything is from the Lord while the angels rejoice as they witness love that is stronger than death. This love is made clear with the forgiveness that the martyr holds out for the taking. It’s all about humble thanksgiving. Any of us could be in anyone else’s circumstances. There, but for circumstances and the grace of God…
We are all nothing before the love of God, we who so love to be enslaved to the circumstances in which we find ourselves. I must insist: what if we lived the circumstances of someone else? Again, good circumstances can easily lead to delusion about ourselves. Anyone holding himself out to be better than others lies to God, to others and to himself, and is a danger to himself and others. I did not “identify” with this friend of mine. What rubbish! Instead, I saw how we are all before the throne of God, how much the Lord loves each of us.
This friend of mine was pretty normal after this, and we would go on long bike hikes even of forty and fifty miles, even at such a young age, but then he tried to do the rape thing once more when we were swimming in a lake dozens of miles from home. He failed, since I made my objection with some force. That was the end of that friendship, then and there, instantly. It’s not that my understanding was at an end. He just had to learn that other people were not his play things that he could abuse at will with no consequences, a lesson I’m sure he didn’t learn at home. Had I done anything else, it would have become a passive/aggressive relationship. Not good, that. My final act of friendship was to ditch the friendship.
Does all this mean he hadn’t learned anything from the previous incident in the basement? Not at all. He had gone back home, and, I’m sure, was subjected to more hell. He just had to repeat his attack, laying aside the hope he had been given previously. Not good. Really, not good. At all. I don’t know what became of him, if he even survived another year. It seemed like he disappeared from the face of the earth. I had asked some friends about him now and again, but they only repeated with much darkness that something unspeakable had happened in his house. None of them would say what it was. They were visibly frightened at the topic. Poor kid. It’s just my conjecture, but if he wasn’t killed by his own family, or if he didn’t kill himself, he might have been snuffed out in a porno film. Indeed, as I was to find out, there was much of that going on in town, indeed, in that end of town. But that’s for the next chapter, where you can read about how I became a kiddie-porn star for the local Mafia.